They may be a year late, but when the European Championships begin this weekend, a total of 33 players who played for 15 different Sky Bet EFL Clubs during the 2020/21 season will be representing their countries from Baku and Bucharest to Seville and St. Petersburg over the next four weeks.
As if additional proof were needed of the club’s remarkable system of player recruitment, newly promoted Brentford contribute the most players – five – to the most different countries – four.
While 23 members of England's final 26-man squad either played in the EFL, came through an EFL club academy or made their debut in EFL competition, exactly half of the 24 European Championship teams feature a Sky Bet EFL player in their squad, with Wales carrying 13 players alone.
Here, we look at all of the EFL players to follow:
Daniel Bachmann (Watford)
When the 2020/21 season began, Bachmann’s goalkeeping CV amounted to 49 loan appearances at Wrexham, Ross County, Bury and Kilmarnock. By May, it showed a starring role in promotion from the Sky Bet Championship with Watford and a first international cap for Austria, against England at Wembley. The 26-year-old benefitted from an injury to Ben Foster to keep 13 clean sheets in 23 league games. Expected to be a reserve at the Euros, he has already proven himself a reliable deputy if needed.
Simon Sluga (Luton Town)
One of six keepers from the Sky Bet EFL to make his country’s squad for the Euros, Simon Sluga has represented Croatia at six different age levels. While the 28-year-old Luton Town keeper is not likely to start against England, Scotland or Czech Republic in Group D, Sluga has earned his place with a remarkable improvement in his consistency. When he first arrived at Kenilworth, Sluga interspersed brilliance with the occasional mishap, but has worked hard to transform himself into one of the Sky Bet Championship’s most reliable performers.
Tomas Kalas (Bristol City)
Central defender Tomas Kalas will bring happy Wembley memories to the pitch for Czech Republic’s final Group D fixture against England. The 28-year-old was a member of the Fulham side that beat Aston Villa in the 2018 Sky Bet Championship Play-Off Final at the stadium. He had also won promotion to the Premier League two seasons earlier with Middlesbrough, one of six Clubs to whom he was loaned out by Chelsea. By contrast, finding a home in the centre of the Czech defence has never been a problem for the 28-year-old.
Mathias Jensen (Brentford)
Christian Norgaard (Brentford)
No pair of team-mates will surely arrive at Euro 2020 on a greater wave of euphoria than Brentford pair Mathias Jensen and Christian Norgaard after their Wembley triumph in the Sky Bet Championship Play-Off Final. Norgaard was forced to watch the 2-0 victory over Swansea City from the substitutes’ bench after injuring himself in the warm-up to the Semi-Final second leg, but both players will be desperate to transfer their club success onto the international stage as they aim to overcome Belgium, Russia and Finland in Group B.
Marcus Forss (Brentford)
Nicholas Hamalainen (QPR)
Anssi Jaakola (Bristol Rovers)
Teemu Pukki (Norwich City)
As if Teemu Pukki didn’t have enough to celebrate after scoring 26 goals in Norwich City’s title-winning Sky Bet Championship season, the 31-year-old will be leading his country’s attack in Finland’s debut at a major international tournament. Pukki will be hoping fatigue isn’t a concern at the end of a gruelling season for the striker. As well as making 41 Championship appearances for Norwich, Pukki played 11 times for his country, scoring five goals.
He is joined in the Finland squad by Queens Park Rangers wing-back Nicholas Hamalainen, Brentford striker Marcus Forss and Bristol Rovers keeper Anssi Jaakola, one of two Sky Bet League One players to make it to the tournament.
Adam Nagy (Bristol City)
Adam Nagy endured a difficult start to the season at Bristol City. By mid-November, the 25-year-old had played eight internationals for Hungary, but just two Championship matches for the Robins. Matters improved as he was able to force his way into the City side on a regular basis after that, yet he only played the full 90 minutes for his club once in the final three months of the season, so his stamina will be tested in the 'Group of Death' by opponents France, Germany and Portugal.
Tim Krul (Norwich City)
If it comes as a surprise to learn that Tim Krul is still only 33, it is because the Norwich City keeper made his debut in English football at the age of just 18. He has forged a reputation as a penalty stopper ever since. The Dutchman saved three this season alone to help Norwich gain wins at Rotherham, Bristol City and Queens Park Rangers which helped them to the Sky Bet Championship title. The Netherlands’ Group C opponents Ukraine, Austria and North Macedonia needn’t worry, but come the knockout stages…
Michal Helik (Barnsley)
Kamil Jozwiak (Derby County)
Michal Helik and Kamil Jozwiak could hardly have experienced more contrasting seasons in the Sky Bet Championship. Helik offered a commanding, uncompromising presence at the heart of the Barnsley defence as the Tykes forged into the Play-Offs. He also scored six goals for the Tykes and when he did, Barnsley never lost. Jozwiak arrived at Derby County in September from Lech Poznan, but like his new teammates at Pride Park, the 23-year-old midfielder endured a season of struggle with survival only assured on the final day. The pair will aim to steer Poland past Group E opponents Spain, Sweden and Slovakia.
David Marshall (Derby County)
Grant Hanley (Norwich City)
Scott McKenna (Nottingham Forest)
Lyndon Dykes (QPR)
If you had asked the young Lyndon Dykes in his native Australia which international sporting competition he might compete in in 2021, he would probably have said the Rugby League World Cup. Instead, he swapped an oval ball for a round one, moved to Scotland to be near family and this season scored 12 goals as Queen Park Rangers finished ninth in the Sky Bet Championship. Scotland’s other Sky Bet EFL representatives – Derby County goalkeeper David Marshall and defenders Grant Hanley and Scott McKenna of Norwich City and Nottingham Forest, respectively – have less glamorous back stories, but together they will hope to create history by emerging from the Group Stage of an international tournament for the first time.
Pontus Jansson (Brentford)
Ken Sema (Watford)
Could the man who lifted the Sky Bet Championship Play-Off Final trophy at Wembley less than a fortnight ago possibly lift more silverware at the same venue in four weeks’ time? Even Pontus Jansson with his positive outlook on football and life may not dare to dream that just yet with opening Group E opponents Spain to face in Sevilla on Monday. The 30-year central defender can at least swap promotion tales with fellow squad member Ken Sema, whose five goals for Watford this season helped the Hornets to go up automatically.
Halil Dervisoglu (Brentford)
Halil Dervisoglu may have only played a fleeting role in Brentford’s success this season, but the young striker is the fifth member of the Bees’ EFL squad to make this summer’s Euros. Born in Holland of Turkish parentage, he could even feature - most likely as a substitute - in the tournament’s opening game when Turkey take on Italy in Rome. New names emerge at every major championships. Could Dervisoglu make his over the next month?
Adam Davies (Stoke City)
Ben Cabango (Swansea City)
Chris Gunter (Charlton Athletic)
Tom Lockyer (Luton Town)
Chris Mepham (Bournemouth)
Connor Roberts (Swansea City)
Joe Allen (Stoke City)
David Brooks (Bournemouth)
Rubin Colwill (Cardiff City)
Joe Morrell (Luton Town)
Jonny Williams (Cardiff City)
Harry Wilson (Liverpool, on loan at Cardiff City)
Kieffer Moore (Cardiff City)
If you include Liverpool midfielder Harry Wilson who spent most of the season on loan at Cardiff City, Sky Bet EFL players make up half of Wales’ 26-man squad. Intriguingly, it contains four pairs of team-mates – Adam Davies and Joe Allen of Stoke City, Ben Cabango and Connor Roberts of Swansea City, Tom Lockyer and Joe Morrell of Luton Town as well as the Bournemouth pairing of Chris Mepham and David Brooks. A trio of Wilson’s team-mates at Cardiff, Jonny Williams, Kieffer Moore and surprise inclusion, 19-year-old Rubin Colwill, will also battle against Italy, Turkey and Switzerland in Group A. The odd man out is vastly experienced Charlton Athletic right-back Chris Gunter, a veteran of Euro 2016.